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Newark, N.J.-Seton Hall University School of Law is the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into alleged discrimination against white law students, according to officials at the school and the department. The investigation by the department’s Office for Civil Rights is looking at two programs: a minority mentoring effort called “Partners in Excellence” and a minority job fair held last July in conjunction with a push by several New Jersey law firms seeking to increase the level of diversity in their ranks. The job fair-sponsored by a committee called the New Jersey Law Firm Group-is a particular target because Seton Hall told students they were eligible to attend only if they weren’t white. The annual fair alternates between Seton Hall and Rutgers School of Law, which has campuses in Newark and Camden, raising the prospect that the investigation could expand to both of New Jersey’s law schools. Dean Patrick Hobbs of Seton Hall School of Law said his faculty reacted with surprise and disappointment at the Department of Education’s action, which started shortly after the job fair was first advertised. The two programs do not discriminate against whites because they are only a small part of the school’s overall career offerings, Hobbs said, and should not be viewed in isolation. The complainant, who is unidentified, has not applied to Seton Hall and has not been affected by the fair or the mentoring effort. A handwritten addendum to the complaint states, “Please note that I have not personally been discriminated against and am filing this complaint in my capacity as a citizen.” Nonetheless, the letter alerting the department to Seton Hall’s career services states, “I demand that this job fair be open to Whites, that the language on all advertising be changed to reflect that, that mail notice be sent to all White students potentially affected by this, and that all White students be given the opportunity to reply.” A spokesman for the department’s Office for Civil Rights said that the investigation was ongoing, but declined to comment further.

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